Παύλος Νιρβάνας – Ἀπὀ τὴν φύσιν καὶ τὴν ζωὴν (1898)
Category : Modern Greek Aestheticism & Antiquity
(translation : Ilias Kolokouris & Janet Downie)
Into the midst of the dirge of eternal asphodels you spread the trembling joy of your whiteness, O Miranda. O exotic lily, below the silent tholos, where your petals embrace the lament of shadow – your petals first kissed by the bats of death. O Miranda, from the princely smiles extinguished beneath the golden masks, and from the divine tremor scattered into the light of the buildings, rose the triumph of your life. O mystic lily, into the midst of the dirge of eternal asphodels you first shone forth before the grief of your youth.
From the lust of the burial earth you rose like a shoot of ancient (ivy? Cells?). And you sucked up from the earth the ichor of the princely bodies, and the youthful flood of life woke again from its deep sleep within the virginal flow of your veins. From the list of the burial earth you rose up into the dark air, filled with the breath of death, and the dreams of eternal sleep – all the longings of life and the tremors of desire – kissed with their airy wings the dew of your feathers. O potent lily, in the midst of the dirge of eternal asphodels you wreathed the affliction of my youth.
Wonder birthed you, O Miranda. You attained your stature in the midst of an old silence, with the dew of freshly made virginity. Your gestures filled the atmosphere of ancient shadows with a power that bends the knees of slaves. Your eyes shone with the light of the first sunrise of love. And the blood of Homeric roses and the marrow of the reeds of Erasinos and the mystic convulsions with which the kiss of pollen shakes the flowers of the Argolid plain – all wove together the harmony of your nakedness.
Into the kingdom of death your voice poured forth like a complaint from the string of the lyre and like the terrifying sound of golden shields struck together and like the drop of water into the slumber of caves. Into the holy darkness your glance scattered the sweet phosphorescence with which the soul lights the night of tombs of bones that wove together the embraces of love. And from the mirror of your brow proceed dreams of the passion and power of unknown kings, and the dreams of those desires with which their women – white-purple flowers of the women’s chambers – slept by their sides.
O Miranda, into my tired eyes you shone with golden rays of wonder and with white flashes of revelation. And before the power of your appearance something was troubled within me like the (overhanging ??) destruction/ knockdown of a temple/church and something like the breaking of sinews (=within the body)/ chords and something like the cycle of ruins and like the extinguishing of lamps/candles. And a virgin chaos arose in my breast, a chaos flooded by the brilliance of your appearance/ APOCALYPSE.
And in the darkness filled with the embraces of shadows, I said to you: O Miranda, into my veins has been poured the burning flood of the blood of charioteers, sucked in by the earth. The ichor of the Atreides burns my veins, Miranda, O exotic bloom, untouched by the glance of desire, O bloom unstained by the breath of pleasure, thirst for death rises within me, mistress. Come, let us die together.
340ἰχώρ, οἷός πέρ τε ῥέει μακάρεσσι θεοῖσιν:
οὐ γὰρ σῖτον ἔδουσ᾽, οὐ πίνουσ᾽ αἴθοπα οἶνον,
τοὔνεκ᾽ ἀναίμονές εἰσι καὶ ἀθάνατοι καλέονται.
And I said to you: Miranda, here in the imperial deathbed there is space for the two of us. The fearsomeness of life stretches out all around us. The envy of the gods stands over us. The ravages of separation threaten our happiness. Here in the imperial deathbed love never ends and lips remain joined forever. O Miranda, come, let us turn together to the never-ending embrace of death.
And I said to you: Miranda, O exotic bloom, untouched by the breath of desire, do you wish to become my own forever? And you lifted your gaze into the darkness, satiated with the embraces of shadows, and you let it rest upon the pallor of my face. And you said to me, with the voice of those who pray, and with the voice of those who sing hymns: O chosen one, the wave of my life rolls eagerly towards you beneath the holy covering of death.
The winds, drunk with the sun, embrace wildly above our heads. Here below the rocky dome, you bloom, O Miranda, queen of the pulses of my body. Below the light of the sky, the ivy embraces the plane trees, which are threatened by the thunder. The sky’s envy does not reach down here. The stars, shaken, tumble from the sky and are lost in the embraces of chaos. O Miranda, the star of my love flickers above your breast.
The sculpted image of our love is lifted up into the shadow of death. A world sleeps deeply under its feet. The golden faces smile bitterly under the earth. Bracelets enclose the ash of bones. Necklaces embrace the dust of white flesh. Savage weapons guard the ashes of heroes. The dust of slaves stands, humble, next to the dust of kings. And within the dirge of decay trembles the new seed of life. Give me your white hand, O Miranda.
The distant ocean roars and the faint voice of the ages reaches our frightened ears. Death repeats the song of past lives. Listen, O beautiful one. The arrows strike the metals of shields beneath the threats of the marble lions. The shoes of the horses strike sparks off the hard stone. The shouts of the giants rise from the cyclopeian walls of the acropoleis. And from the scented depths of the woman’s chamber, the song of eternal love pours out on all sides like a prayer. O Miranda, weave the white bonds of your arms around my head.
Above, a sun dies in the cold sky of the ages. And below its chill rays a distant life breathes like a dream. From the lovely movement of the heroes’ arms they fly and stun, the poisoned arrows. Mantles blow above the lofty bedrock of the walls. The light kisses the white breasts of the women beneath the web of pleasing garments and gold flashes upon their golden hair and on the boss of the shield. And upon the tender grass drips the blood of heroes, drips the blood of virgins. O Miranda, give me the roses of your lips.
A plaintive sound rises from the burial mound unkissed by the sun. And it is like the sighing of nights of love, and it is like the protest of those three-times (??) separated from their mates, and it is like the breath of a distant pipe at sunset. A plaintive sound rises up from the burial mound. And it is like the whisper of kisses in a false dream and it is like the lust for life upon the bed of death and it is like the desire of bones beneath the earth. O Miranda, O lily, exotic and untouched by the breath of desire, the tremor of unknown generations has been poured into my veins. O woman, eternally my own, blow upon my eyelashes the swoon of love.
Out of the affliction of my youth were born the deep nights of his eyes and from the purity of your desires were fashioned the lilies of his countenance, O Miranda. By the power of my passion was fed the strength of his manliness and the roses of his face sprang from the dreams of your nights, O my own one. The bees of love placed upon his lips the musky honey of our first embraces. And the golden butterfly of our youth, trembling from the snows of life, flew and stopped upon the white bloom of his breast. O Miranda, within the breast of Bathyllos (“deep matter”?), our souls begin again the first song of love.
The shudders of our nights take us into the depths of his eyes. The music of our mysteries, which the galaxy heard, is poured out with the caress of his voice. The heat of our embraces inspires his expansive movement. The calmness of our daydreaming beneath the stars molds the statue of his immobility. And the light breeze of twilight stirs lightly on his brow, with the first quiver of our love – stirs again, with pleasure, upon the brow of Bathyllos, your hair together with my own.
The holy Altis of life is stretched out before us, O Miranda. The eternal stadion awaits the fruit of our youth. Place your hands upon the golden locks of his head and kiss the white lily of his countenance, before the chrysalid of thought passes beyond its dewy coolness. Kiss him upon his brown and come sit near me, here on the holy bank of the Alpheios, beneath the great shadows of the plane trees. The shout of contests and the song of victory reaches here the ears of the mothers. Come, sit by me under the great shadows. The Altis of life is stretched out before us. Death is the Great Deception.
A sun is born amid the rose petals of dawn. A sun is born and sweetly kisses the Arcadian mountains. Into this white intoxication of light the silver dancing waters of the Alpheios send sparks, the silver dancing waters of the Kladeos send forth sparks from the silent shadows. And the immortal people of marble celebrate in the green spaces of the Altis. A sun is born amid the rose petals of dawn and sweetly kisses the Arcadian mountains.
The trumpets stir the morning air, O Bathyllos. The beautifully wreathed olive tree lowers its branches beneath the marbles of the prostyle. The gates of the temple open before your youth. The throne of the god shines forth before your face with its gold and ivory and ebony and precious stones and upon it the sun stands driving the chariot and Selene rides horseback. The Immortal one with golden hair shows you the chryselephantine Victory and lifts up before your face the eagle upon the flashing scepter. Swear, O Bathyllos, the holy oath.
The trumpets strike the morning air. Throw aside your cloak, O youthful one, and display the holy bloom of youth celebrating beneath the sun. The shout of the people is lifted up all around you. Take flight, O Bathyllos. The earth slips beneath your feet and the air is rent before you and kisses your damp brow and brushes aside your golden hair. Take flight, O Bathyllos. The shoots of palm are lifted up to the very top, ready to kiss the locks of your hair. Praxiteles is drunk with the bloom of your flesh and the marble, which fashions gods, trembles in the lao of the earth. Take flight, O Bathyllos.
From the ecstasy of my desire were born the flashes of his eyes, and from your virgin shame the great shadows of his eyelashes. By the phosphorescence of your prayer the white light of his countenance was illuminated, and on the poison of my thought were nourished the snaky locks of his hair. The breeze of twilight above his brow stirs with pleasure your hair together with my own. And within the mystic flower of his breast, the chrysalids of our life sprout new white-gold wings.
The eternal Altis stretches out before us, O Miranda. The sun sweetly kisses the Arcadian mountains. The Sun kisses the diamonds of the Kladeos and the diamonds of the Alpheios. The Eternal one lifts up in his right hand the chryselephantine Victory. The communal celebration of the stadion embraces the fruit of our love and the beautifully-wreathed olive tree leans its immortal branches over the X (??) of eternal youth. O Miranda, more sweetly than the sunset, O Miranda, more sweetly than the pale roses, the Altis of life grows green before us. Death is the Great Deception.